Photo by AP/Jae C. Hong

Tempers Flare Between the Lakers and Mavericks in Battle L.A.

Well, so much for Dallas putting up a fight. After I previously mentioned how I’d rather play Dallas than Oklahoma City, the Lakers romped the Mavericks in a 110-82 slugfest — literally.

Photo by AP/Jae C. Hong

With 9:23 remaining in the 4th quarter, Jason Terry committed a hard foul on Steve Blake (eventually called a Flagrant 2). After bumping Blake on his path to the basket, Terry shoved Blake to the floor. Immediately, Blake rose and got in Terry’s face. The two began jawing and had to be broken apart.

That wasn’t the end of the altercation, though.

Matt Barnes entered the scene, pushing Terry and having to be held back by the refs. The two walked toward each other once again, yet this time Barnes was near the Mavs’ bench. Mavs’ assistant coach Terry Stotts grabbed and held Barnes, “attempting” to hold Barnes back.

Well, Barnes didn’t like that. He told Stotts to get off him (in a R-rated manner), and shoved him to the bench. Yikes. That won’t bode well in the league offices.

The Mavs chose Theo Ratliff to shoot the flagrant free-throws, as after Blake’s ejection the Mavs’ had a choice who they wanted to attempt them (I never understood this rule. Let’s say Blake got injured and their was no altercation. The Mavericks would still pick anyone they wanted from L.A. to shoot the free-throws. That literally makes no sense. They commit the flagrant, then get to pick a poor foul-shooter to miss the free-throws. Any logic in that? I didn’t think so).

The aftermath? Ejections for Barnes, Blake, Terry and Brendan Haywood. Yes, Haywood actually did something in the game (still not sure what he did to get ejected). It seems Blake and Haywood will be fined, Terry will be suspended one game, and Barnes will be suspended at least two games (he pushed Terry and Stotts — wouldn’t surprise me if he gets multiple games).

After the players, coaches and crowd calmed down (apparently there was a fight in the 200s section), a fan ran down and headed towards the Mavericks bench. This fan was quickly stopped and physically escorted out of the arena by at least six security guards in red jackets.

To cap the night off, Brian Cardinal decided to become a tough guy, fouling Pau Gasol on back-to-back possessions. These weren’t you average fouls though. These were WWE fouls.

As a result, Shannon Brown decided to send a message. He got in Cardinal’s face, and the two exchanged shoves (sort of). Once again, another Laker was ejected.

Lost in all the madness that was this game, was the fact that L.A. dominated Dallas en route to a 28-point victory.

Kobe Bryant had 28 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. Gasol added 20 points and 7 rebounds. Andrew Bynum beasted with 18 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks and a couple of monster dunks. Lamar Odom chipped in 16 points and 11 rebounds off the bench. Even Ron Artest – yes, Ron-Ron — had 13 points and 6 assists, plus another kissing-his-biceps celebration.

Besides Dirk Nowitzki and Jose Juan Barea, no one on Dallas had a productive game. Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and Shawn Marion — all notorious Laker “killers” — couldn’t find their shot tonight. Tyson Chandler and Haywood struggled in the paint.

We saw a flashback to the early 00’s, when Peja Stojackovic hit back-to-back three pointers, but other than that, it was a grim night for the Mavs.

L.A. just dominated the game, pure and simple. They won the boards (40 rebounds to 36), passing game (23 assists to 18), defensive end (11 combined steals and blocks compared to 7), and took care of the ball better (7 turnovers compared to 13).

Oh yeah, they shot better too. They held the Mavs to 36.1% from the field, 23.1% from beyond the arc, and just 23 platry free-throw attempts compared to their 39.

If L.A. plays this way in the playoffs, there is literally no team that can stop them. When their big men are rebounding, defending and scoring, they’re nearly unstoppable. Add in Artest’s shooting and things get even better. But let’s not overlook the Black Mamba either, as that man is pretty valuable in his own right.

With a San Antonio loss, the Lakers (54-20) moved to within 2.5 games of the Spurs (57-18). Will L.A. catch them? We’ll see, but pending suspensions won’t help their cause.

Tonight exuded a playoff atmosphere. You could see it on the court, on the player’s faces, and within the crowd. If this is a playoff preview, though, Dallas should be pretty scared, as once the “Purple & Gold Express” starts rolling, its nearly impossible to stop.

To reach Jovan, e-mail him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @JovanBuha.

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Tags: Andrew Bynum Brendan Haywood Brian Cardinal Dirk Nowitzki Jason Kidd Jason Terry Jose Juan Barea Kobe Bryant Lamar Odom Matt Barnes Pau Gasol Peja Stojackovic Ron Artest Shannon Brown Shawn Marion Steve Blake Tyson Chandler

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